Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Scholastic Book Fair

scholastic (adjective): of or relating to schools

Both of the schools my children attend hold Scholastic Book Fairs at least once every year. A few months ago I volunteered to work at the Scholastic Book Fair booth for a couple of hours. Usually, I let my kids pick out one or two books each as I would steer them clear of the junk books. But during my volunteer time, I was able to really see the full Scholastic Book Fair selection available at this school. I must say I was a little disappointed to see so many junk books. My definition of junk books are books that are just cartoons or movies repackaged. Books are supposed to excite your imagination, not regurgitate already over hyped images. I was especially sad to see that a good portion of the non-commercial books targeting girls were of the Clique, Sealed with a Diss and Once Upon a Prom- 3 pack set variety.

I checked out the featured fair books on Scholastic's site. Thankfully the number of non-commercial vs. commercial books was at least 3 to 1 in each age category. I think if your company's name is Scholastic, then your first priority should be quality and not catering to what is in fashion.

Back to our book fair.........I didn't really comment much to the other parents at the time. I have since learned some of the parents also felt the same way. I found this article. I understand the schools hold these book fairs for two reasons: to encourage reading and to earn money. And I understand the need for more funding for the schools. But how much are we willing to sell out our kids? The article seems to imply that each school can tailor the book selection to some degree. I plan on talking to the organizers about the book selection before the book fairs next year.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Margerie, I run the Scholastic book fair at our school (it's book fair week right now--help!). Here (through Scholastic Canada), you can't pick and choose the individual books, just which "modules" you get (age groups, French, etc.). And I guess you can choose not to put the posters and crap out for the kids to see.

I hate to say it, but we sell a LOT of the pencils, erasers, toys, posters, etc. The librarian and I always try to steer the kids away from that stuff and the commercial character books.

On the other hand, Scholastic is very generous with the percentage that the school gets (here it's up to 60%), they give us $60 worth of free books to give away as we please (contests, etc.), and I've known them to give the librarian at a low-income school a bunch of books to give to the kids for free.

It's kind of a necessary evil. The money we make from two book fairs a year far outstrips the money that the librarian gets from the government and the money that the PAC (=PTA) gives her. Selling some of the crap means that she can buy much more of the good stuff than she would otherwise be able to do.